Moisley's penguin

Tereingaornis moisleyi Scarlett, 1983

Order: Sphenisciformes

Family: Spheniscidae

New Zealand status: Endemic

Conservation status: Extinct

Other names: Moisleys penguin

 
 
 
Moisley's penguin. Holotype coracoid, Canterbury Museum Zfa-11. Te Reinga Falls, Wairoa River, Hawke's Bay. Image © Daniel Ksepka by Daniel Ksepka

Moisley's penguin. Holotype coracoid, Canterbury Museum Zfa-11. Te Reinga Falls, Wairoa River, Hawke's Bay. Image © Daniel Ksepka by Daniel Ksepka

Moisley’s penguin was the first, and so far only, fossil penguin to be named from the North Island. However, several penguin fossils from Kawhia and South Auckland have yet to be referred to species.

William Moisley found the first fossil above Te Reinga Falls on the Wairoa River, Hawke’s Bay in 1973, and donated it to Canterbury Museum in 1981. Ron Scarlett considered the fossil bones to be similar to the extant penguin genus Spheniscus (found in South America, Galapagos Islands and South Africa), but proposed a new genus for them. The genus name is derived from the type locality and Greek ornis (a bird), and the species name honours the discoverer and donor of the fossil.

Moisley’s penguin was slightly smaller than a Fiordland crested penguin. It is estimated to have lived during the Pliocene (3.6-3.0 million years ago). The holotype (CM Zfa-11) is comprised of at least nine associated bones, and is held in Canterbury Museum. A second specimen (a humerus and a coracoid) from Waihi Beach, Hawera, Taranaki was described in 1987.

References

McKee, J.W.A. 1987. The occurrence of the Pliocene penguin Tereingaornis moisleyi (Sphenisciformes: Spheniscidae) at Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 14: 557-561.

Scarlett, R.J. 1983. Tereingaornis moisleyi – a new Pliocene penguin. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 26: 419-428.

Recommended citation

Miskelly, C.M. 2013. Moisley’s penguin. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Moisley's penguin

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